I take a little time off from writing TWIPT and the Padres Twitter world explodes. The only predictable part of it all is that Marver has been totally worthless at contributing anything, anything at all, to the site. So since the point I left for vacation in Belgium in late July, the following stuff happened: person got racist tweets dragged up because he called someone annoying, person got racist tweets dragged up just because, the Padres endured a world class tail spin on the field, Eric Hosmer put together one of the worst months in team history, 5.5 Podcast got Phil Hughes to go on the show, Padres Twitter successfully campaigned for Wayne Partello and the Padres to stop glorifying and featuring two convicted violent domestic abusers (an argument that has been made and ignored for years), the Padres severing ties with the Giles Brothers without admitting wrongdoing or apologizing, Luis Urias got called up inciting a frenzy of excitement, that spotlight was then rediverted thanks to Partello and the Padres’ marketing department once again taking the focus off the good things going on with the baseball side with yet another blunder, this time being grain beetle infested beach hats and then ham handed and slow public response to the usher secret police seizing hats from paying customers, @miserablesdfan questioning Kevin Acee and then accused of being “vicious” and out of line at the Kept Faith live pod, and finally, a Twitch video got out with Carlos Asuaje and Wil Myers discussing “Cotton” Andy Green and forcing Wil to do relay drills a week after he injured himself by, for some reason, backhanding a grounder hit right to him that deflected into his face. WHEW! This was just in the last five weeks or so!
The emergence of Luis Urias was by far the most exciting news to hit the Padres Twitter world in maybe years. In the last days of the Josh Byrnes era, Urias was signed out of rural Sonora state in Mexico. He is one of the bellwethers of the entire youth movement. If he succeeds, confidence in The Plan (TM) skyrockets. If he fails, lord have mercy on those that were led to believe. Luckily for all of us, Urias showed flashes in the field and at the plate. He wasn’t lighting the league on fire, wRC+ing 68 in a small sample, but he held his own. And then he got hurt and it was all over for now, but we saw enough to believe. In the end, it is something for fans to grab hold of and to foster hope for next season. Many were burned by buying too much into Hosmer mania, into the narratives created around Andy Green’s new “culture of accountability”, into Ron Fowler predicting a .500 season, into forgetting that the team’s Pythagorean record in 2017 showed that they were also a 100 loss caliber team. Urias is what we need to believe the plan will work. Because, if the plan doesn’t work, what are we even doing here. Nick McCann from The Kept Faith has talked frequently about how he’s got this rebuild in him and that’s probably it if it doesn’t work. I don’t know how many times I can go through this process and believe THIS TIME IT’LL WORK, and I think deep down, a lot of fans feel the same. Urias can help us believe that this five (seven?!?!) year plan will actually work.
Days Since Marver Actually Wrote Something: 53 days. I just wrote about how Urias stokes hope in all of us. Remember those days when Marver stoked hope in everyone that he would take the reins of This Week In Padres Twitter the week after Andy Mazon so heroically filled in during late August? We would get to read Marver launch zingers, talk algorithms, and highlight Terrible Jagoff Tweet of the Weeks. Alas, that hope faded away faster than it did with fans watching Brett Kennedy pitch.
Padres Blogosphere Posts:
East Village Times: A Discussion With Eric Lauer About His Walk Rate and Changeup: With Eric Lauer, his flashes of success have generally correlated with how his velocity is looking. In early July, Lauer’s velocity spiked as he routinely hit 95 on the gun, and sat around 93-94. This of course led to an immediate drop in velocity and then an injury, but for that couple of weeks, Lauer really looked like something different than the soft tossing pitchability guy that he was scouted to be. As James Clark points out, Lauer has set career highs in walks per nine this season. Lauer tells Clark that it’s because he was pitching “timid”, which is natural when your low 90s stuff is getting pummeled by big league hitters; of course you then try to nibble the edges, which inevitably leads to more walks. The thing with Lauer is that he seems like a good guy to have around now, he’s perfectly harmless, has relatively inconsistent performances, and hey, why not. But he’s not an innings eater; over his last seven starts, he’s averaging under 4 1/3 innings. He doesn’t have the kind of stuff you can really dream on and so I start wondering how he really fits in on The Next Good Padres Team (TM). They’ve got a lot of other guys coming up or coming off injuries that have a lot more skills and potential than Lauer. The Padres have other pitchability guys like Lucchesi and Quantrill that have more reasons to keep them in a Major League 4 or 5 slot in a rotation than Lauer. If Lauer is still in the rotation in 2020, I don’t think it’s a good sign for the outlook of that team or how the prospects are advancing.
SABR’s Statistical Analysis Committee: What A Drag It Is Getting Old: This isn’t Padres specific, but is very applicable looking forward at the free agent market. This post highlights what is pretty well known already, that older players are providing less and less of the distribution of value on MLB teams. 27 is clearly the prime of most players (not surprising then that Eric Hosmer’s best season came at 27), and it is a dramatic fall off after 30 (which Hosmer will be in 2020 for The Next Good Padres Team). This article really highlights why a player like Manny Machado (or Bryce Harper) are so valuable, and why players like Josh Donaldson are land mines waiting to happen. The Padres need to be acquiring players whose prime will hit during the period of contention (presumably starting in 2020 unless Ron Fowler has moved it back again). If those players aren’t available this offseason or are not signed this offseason, then by all means they should wait for next offseason instead of forcing a signing just to hold a press conference.
Gaslamp Ball: Mejia Will Need Very Good BABIP To Be A Good Hitter: This post is a couple weeks old but I thought it was a really interesting analysis by Jay Stokes. Stokes created a model showing that Mejia’s wRC+ has been closely correlated with his BABIP given that he has generally been a bad walk%/good k% guy (this was written before his very small sample size Padres performance which actually has him as a good walk%/bad k% guy). Mejia has flashed his tremendous bat speed and shown off what he’s capable of when he gets a hold of one. His bat speed just reminds me of Gary Sheffield. But he’s also hitting .205. I think my takeaway from this analysis is that Mejia’s bat at catcher is incredible. But Mejia’s bat at 3B or LF is kind of ho-hum. With all due respect to Austin Hedges, I really hope Mejia can show that he should be behind the plate on a regular basis.
Gaslamp Ball: 2018 Rule 5 Draft Outlook: Not much to say on this other than it’s a great look at the upcoming Rule 5 roster crunch. Many of the players needing protecting don’t have much chance at appearing in the big leagues next season, so it’s not quite as easy as identifying the players that currently suck and replacing them with all the guys that need protecting. Preller will also need to find guys that can actually fill the 25 man roster as well.
The Golden Age of Padres Podcasts:
The 5.5 Podcast: Planning Ahead With Moves That Make Way Too Much Sense: Eric and Danny dug into what the team should do this offseason in free agency. The answer, of course, being to sign Manny Machado. As has been brought up many times, the Padres have SO MUCH room between their upcoming projected payrolls and what Forbes says is their break-even point for payroll (~$135M-$140M). This amount wouldn’t even bring them up to MLB’s mean payroll. If there is a reason to not sign Machado, it better be baseball related. Unfortunately, I hear way more often from fans about how we just can’t expect the little old sad small market Padres to sign him especially when they owe so much money to Hosmer and Myers. This is defeatist and it’s not grounded in any reality. If Machado is a guy that fills a need and can elevate The Next Good Padres Team to the next level, than fans should EXPECT and DEMAND ownership to bring that piece to San Diego. The days of Seth Smith being The Final Piece (TM) should never happen again.
Los Hijos Podcast: El Hijo Numero Uno: The Bitchin’ Sauce boys are finally back with a new episode. The gang does a nice wrap-up of prospects that debuted this season, but the big get is bringing on stadium dance legend Ryan Cohen. Ryan not only is a great Encinitan, he has elevated extreme Padres fandom to a new level, and was the highlight guest of the week for me.
Friars On The Farm: Benjamin Hill and Season Ending News: Roy and Donovan have done a great job this season of providing steady and focused Padres minor league talk and analysis on their podcast. Production values aren’t great but it’s the content that counts, and they are putting out good content. In this episode, they discuss what a great start to his career Owen Miller has. I was lucky enough to see Miller play when he was with Tri-Cities, and he looks like a good player. It should also be noted that he should look like a good player because he’s a 3 year college player that’s almost 22 facing much younger talent. If Miller can keep it together next year, though, he’s a guy that we all should really start focusing on. As a college player, he’s the type that could move through the system quickly.
Make The Padres Great Again: WAR! What Is It Good For?: John has been all over the idea of Rod Barajas maybe please god possibly the next Padres manager. Craig and John do a great job of breaking down the weirdness of having Andy Green’s eventual successor in the clubhouse and on the bench with him. Like is Lil’ Andy super passive aggressive to Barajas? Craig also digs into the WAR stat, noting that Eric Hosmer is literally one of the worst 10 players in Major League Baseball by WAR. COOL!!!!!!
Now onto a side note from this episode. Professionally, one of my specialties is identifying and/or mitigating organizational and personal conflicts of interest. It’s one of the long running themes of my Padres related blog writing. Calling out possible conflicts was actually one of my first blog posts on the old Padres Jagoff blogspot. The thing with ethics is everyone has their own code, and that’s fine. But when you’re producing for an audience, it’s important to remember that perceived conflicts of interest are as dangerous as actual conflicts of interest. Most of us aren’t doing this for a living, we just enjoy writing or talking about our favorite baseball squadron, and I guess if the goal is to get some free tickets, it’s a way to do that. I’ve chosen to turn down all offers of tickets from the team, including Mike Dee offering me Lexus Club seats and seats in the now defunct lifeguard chair “Perch”. But accepting gifts sticks something into the reader or listeners’ mind that it’s possible the team and/or Chief Marketing Officer giving away the tickets has some sway. The usual response is “hey look at all this stuff we published that isn’t all rosy” and that’s good evidence, but the thing with creating perceived conflicts of interest by accepting tickets/goodies/free swag from the team is that the question is always floating in the air of what is their price. I’m not trying to single out John, I noticed it a few times on Padres Twitter last week.
I’m not going to tell, you, the reader, how to enforce or prosecute your own code of ethics, but for me, accepting gifts from the team really gives the wrong impression.
Zero Chance Podcast: Meet The Padres: And that brings us to this week’s Zero Chance Podcast. First, the obvious: it was a big deal that Rick and Brady were let onto the field to record an episode and be provided with Padres players to interview. I’ve had a theory that Wayne Partello will eventually make Zero Chance, if not an official production of the Padres, an unofficial official production of the Padres; basically a safe harbor in Padres Twitter/Golden Age of Padres Podcasts where the team can provide some content through having it’s players or employees on. Keep in mind that Partello canned Mike Janela so that he could give Brady an extended audition on Padres Social Hour. They’ve been on quasi-Padres-produced Padres POV many times this season. It just seems to make sense. This isn’t meant as a dig on the Zero Chance guys, it seems like a good place to be if access is the goal. And they are good at schmoozing with the players on this episode. Put it this way, the Padres and Wayne Partello have an abysmal record of producing compelling content themselves: Padres Social Hour was hamstrung by risk-averse production and the desire to have Bill Center ON CAMERA for some godforesaken reason, Center’s Friars On Deck was dreadfully produced and provided little if any useful content, Agler’s Beyond The Booth ran out of Padres employees to interview and was many times dreadfully boring. Rick and Brady (assuming Partello doesn’t kill what they have with over-management and too much forcing control-the-message which given his long track record of failure is a possibility), would be the best they’ve had, by far. Really, just give them Padres POV to be honest.
As far as specifics of the episode itself, I thought Brady in the last three minutes was the most interesting. I thought I’d just transcribe it:
We’ve been building a relationship with the Padres for years, I mean, combined, almost two decades between the two of us of building relationships with, um, just the way you carry yourself, carry yourself like a responsible human being and be fair. We don’t ever shy away from criticizing the team when they deserve criticism, and when something is going on on the field that needs to be talked about, we address it. But I feel like we do it in a fair way and that is why we’ve been given a fair shake to come do this.
Tweet of the Week:
And the Jaggy goes to…
Congrats to Oscar. I don’t usually do honorable mentions for Jaggy’s, but James Clark deserves special recognition for this dunk on Canepa:
Terrible Marver Tweet Of The Week:
I’m not even prepared to say Marver is necessarily wrong with his premise (he probably is but I don’t want to get into it for seventeen hours with him). But I think he tweeted this as part of a master plan to bring Mario Kart 64 into the discussion and, thus, anointing himself as an “athlete”
Nick Canepa Is An Irrelevant Out Of Touch Old Timer Or Possibly Doing A Bit:
LOL can you believe these crazy kids and their riding bikes and not wanting to get hit by cars and literally dying?!?!?! LOL LOL LOL!
How Did Wayne Partello Screw Up This Time?:
This is a new feature that will pop up when it’s needed. Of course, it could have been brought out for the Padres’ grain beetle incident where Partello dispatched ushers to act as a lifeguard hat secret police and literally seize people’s hats. But this week’s edition will highlight something that has happened MANY times before. Padres fans put up with terrible line and security management related to entrance to the park and security theater. But concert fans have it far worse, generally pay WAY more for their tickets, and the Padres bungle the lines EVERY SINGLE TIME.
It’s just so weird how all this stuff always happens to this executive team at such a high frequency. SO WEIRD! TOTALLY A COINCIDENCE!